Poor judge Alito. Can you imagine having to sit through a day of Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer without responding? I think he's learned the same skill I did in the second year of law school. If you sleep with your eyes open, you can endure almost anything.
The Spectacle Blog
I'll be subbing for Mark again today on AM 600 KOGO, San Diego. Hope you can catch it. I'm going to take on Ralph Neas on Alito.
We're hearing that Republican Whip candidate Rep. Eric Cantor is endorsing Rep. Roy Blunt for House Republican Leader.
Word is the Pence decision to step aside isn't so much about support or lack there of. Rather, it's a matter of the Congressman doing what's best for the caucus. Reading between the lines: there is more afoot here than meets the eye.
Sen. Russ Feingold's biggest gripe with Judge Alito's integrity is the old yarn about his investment in Vanguard mutual funds. This accusation is already warmed over from the months of scrutiny of Alito's record: judges are encouraged to invest in mutual funds precisely because doing so avoids conflict of interests. Alito (rightly) didn't recuse himself from a case involving Vanguard because he's their customer, not an investor. Their success or failure in a case has no bearing on the worth of his investment in their funds.
Howard Dean spoke way too soon about the Democrats being lily white and pure on accepting money from the Jack Abramoff. We're hearing that that the Democratic campaign committees in both the House and the Senate are running full audits to find out just have much they have accepted.
Senator Harry Reid apparently reached out to Dean and told him to keep his mouth shut. Dean, according to DNC sources, believes the Abramoff story has traction, based on what the party is seeing out in the states. We shall see.
The upshot, though, is that Democrats can only attack Jack Abramoff for so long before a number of prominent Democratic activists/lobbyists/fundraisers come under close scrutiny.
Just another reason to subscribe to The American Spectator, Joe Biden, our fave all around bad guy Democrat Senator, just said told soon-to-be Justice Alito that he should be "proud" to be a subscriber to The American Spectator and National Review.
I guess our political contributions to him are paying off. (Just kidding!)
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House Republicans thrash in search of a new leadership team. Sam Alito stands before the fully armed Judiciary Committee firing squad, with a trembling Leader Bill Frist in the wings, fearing a direct hit and the offensive of a filibuster he cannot break. Meanwhile the natural successor to the lame duck President Bush, Dick Cheney, spends more hours in the hospital, suggesting a crisis even before the nasty battle for succession in the winter spring of 2008.
Just as we are mulling Blunt's standing, Rep. Jack Kingston (GA) endorses him. Kingston is a bellwether for conservatives.
Folks on the House who are having a tough time seeing where the Pence announcement plays out elsewhere.
The assumption was that if Rep. Roy Blunt were leading John Boehner in "whip counts" for the Leader position, the House Republican Whip position, which Blunt currently holds, would be a wide open race for conservatives. With Pence stepping aside, the Whip job appears to be now Eric Cantor's, assuming Blunt ascends. "It's odd that Pence would take himself out this early in the game, but perhaps he's hearing a count that indicates Blunt is not doing well,. and the Whip job isn't going to be open."
That is not the case, according to two GOP operatives who cover the House, and who say that Blunt's whip operation is reporting strong responses, and a firm belief that Blunt is ahead of Boehner in the count.
Pence's committee, the Republican Study Group, would, on its face, be a natural spot for Blunt to find strong support. Where that group's members go will be a strong indicator of where Blunt ends up.
It's disappointing news, but quite understandable that Pence wouldn't seek the post if he's lacking the support. He avoids a likely bruising loss, and builds his reputation and support for next time.